In July and August this year the 45,000 professional footballers belonging to the 42 professional organisations across the world that form FIFPro received voting forms in a secret ballot to nominate their peers for inclusion in their “World XI” - choosing the four defenders, three midfielders, three forwards and goalkeeper they most admire.
It is striking that, out of the 55 nominees, almost all were playing in Italy, Spain and England last season. The English Premiership attracted the most nominees with twenty, followed by the Spanish Primera Division with seventeen and Italy’s Serie A with fifteen. The Bundesliga in Germany generated two nominees, and the French Ligue 1 and Argentines Primera Division also provided one each.
Champions League winner AC Milan heads the list for the most nominations with nine, Manchester United have eight, Barcelona, Chelsea and Real Madrid seven, Valencia, Liverpool, Inter, AS Roma and Bayern Munich two and there is one each from Juventus, Fiorentina, Sevilla, Villareal, Arsenal, West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Olympique Lyon and Boca Juniors.
Italy leads the way with the most players in the short list with eleven, followed by nine Englishmen, seven from Brazil, six from Spain, four from Argentina, three from Holland, France and Portugal, and Bulgaria, Germany, Romania, Serbia, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Cameroon each provide one player in the 55.
The 55 player shortlist in full is: (Home country/ Club 2006/2007)
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy/ Juventus), Iker Casillas (Spain/ Real Madrid), Petr Cech (Czech Republic/ Chelsea), Nelson de Jesus Silva ‘Dida’ (Brazil/ AC Milan), Edwin van der Sar (Holland/ Manchester United)
Defenders: Éric Abidal (France/ Olympique Lyon), Daniel Alves (Brazil/ Sevilla), Roberto Ayala (Argentina/ Valencia), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy/ Real Madrid), Roberto Carlos da Silva (Brazil/ Real Madrid), Jamie Carragher (England/ Liverpool), Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal/ Chelsea), Cristian Chivu (Romania/ AS Roma), Ashley Cole (England/ Chelsea), Rio Ferdinand (England/ Manchester United), Philipp Lahm (Germany/ Bayern Munich), Ferreira Lucio (Brazil/Bayern Munich), Paolo Maldini (Italy/ AC Milan), Marco Materazzi (Italy/ Inter), Alessandro Nesta (Italy/ AC Milan), Carles Puyol (Spain/ Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Spain/ Real Madrid), John Terry (England/ Chelsea), Nemanja Vidic (Serbia/ Manchester United), Gianluca Zambrotta (Italy/ Barcelona).
Midfielders: David Beckham (England/ Real Madrid), Anderson Deco (Portugal/ Barcelona), Mickaël Essien (Ghana/ Chelsea), Gennaro Gattuso (Italy/ AC Milan), Steven Gerrard (England/ Liverpool), Andrès Iniesta (Spain/ Barcelona), Ricardo Kaká (Brazil/ AC Milan), Frank Lampard (England/ Chelsea), Claude Makélélé (France/ Chelsea), Andrea Pirlo (Italy/ AC Milan), Juan Roman Riquelme (Argentina/ Villareal/Boca Juniors), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal/ Manchester United), Paul Scholes (England/ Manchester United), Clarence Seedorf (Holland/ AC Milan), Xavi (Spain/ Barcelona).
Forwards: Dimitar Berbatov (Bulgaria/ Tottenham Hotspur), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast/ Chelsea), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon/ Barcelona), Thierry Henry (France/ Arsenal), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden/ Inter), Filippo Inzaghi (Italy/ AC Milan), Lionel Messi (Argentina/ Barcelona), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Holland/ Real Madrid), Ronaldinho (Brazil/ Barcelona), Ronaldo (Brazil/ Real Madrid/ AC Milan), Wayne Rooney (England/ Manchester United), Carlos Tévez (Argentina/ West Ham United), Luca Toni (Italy/ Fiorentina), Francesco Totti (Italy/ AS Roma), David Villa (Spain/ Valencia).
Ronaldinho, FIFPro World Player of the Year in 2005 and in 2006, opened the FIFPro World XI 2007 elections in June: ‘The football world has presented many awards, but to be chosen by your own colleagues really means the most to me. They know what you need to reach the top, they understand the game and if they consider you to be the best, and if they want you to receive this award, then this will give you the greatest satisfaction.’
The final World XI will be announced at 5th October 2007.